In case you can’t get to Italy this weekend this is your consolation prize.
It’s another find from Sunset magazine. So good, so satisfying. I started making this because I have a slight obsession with eggplant and because we were visiting Vegans (with a capital V–they were serious). I quickly realized this was equally appealing to carnivores, and downright meaty in texture and heartiness. The Vegans had to share. A vat of this in the fridge, with or without the toasts and ricotta cheese, and you are set to make a meal out of pretty much anything. Perfect for bruschetta deconstructed and as a spread/filling/topping with crackers, wraps, omelets, tortillas, or accompanied by your carb vehicle of choice.
1 loaf (1 lb.) crusty Italian bread such as ciabatta, cut into 1/3-in.-thick slices
About 6 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 large eggplant, cut into 1/2-in. dice (about 4 cups)
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped green olives (a few pulses in the food processor works too)
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 cup ricotta cheese (or whipped cream cheese)
Preheat oven to 350°. Lay bread on a baking sheet and drizzle with about 2 tbsp. oil. Bake until toasted and light golden brown, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
Heat 2 Tsp oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook eggplant, stirring often, until softened and starting to brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
In the same pan, cook garlic in remaining 2 Tsp oil, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add celery, bell pepper, and olives, stirring to combine, and cook until softened, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup water, the vinegar, tomato paste, raisins, and pine nuts and cook until heated through. Stir in reserved eggplant, salt, and sugar, then mix in herbs.
Serve caponata with ricotta on the toasted bread (technically I think that turns it into bruschetta.)
Spoon cooled caponata into one big or several small mason jars and make a label if you’re feeling fancy. Official word is to chill caponata up to 2 days in the fridge and store toasts airtight up to 2 days but I’ve pushed it out way longer with no scary consequences.